“They fight when they’re unsure if they understand it themselves.”
We had a 4th grade parent meeting at school and were discussing how the kids seem to be getting angry when we, as parents, try to help them with their homework. “That’s not how the teacher wants us to do it.” Seems to be a common statement in many homes right now, and the teachers were clarifying that, while this is age appropriate, it is not true.
The fact is, with the new Common Core Curriculum, the more ways they learn how to do something the better. The problem is that at this age their uncertainty in themselves turns to a fear of being seen as lacking. What to us seems like help, to them feels like judgment.
This idea that help represents a comment on our ability can follow us into adulthood. As a writer I definitely sometimes feel like this when my work is being critiqued. Our first response can often be to claim the other person doesn’t understand. In fact, you should hear me bicker with Word’s grammar checker when it points out all of the fragments in my writing.
But pride, whether in our academic knowledge, appearance, or social standing, comes at a sever cost. Something I was reminded of while watching Gone with the Wind over the last couple of nights.
I guess it has been a while since I have watched the movie in its; entirety. Or perhaps I now have the maturity to better analyze it. Whatever the reason, I found myself both sympathetic to and disgusted by Scarlett. Pride makes us say and do the very worst things. Like this statement by Scarlett:
“You know it's yours. I don't want it any more than you do. No woman would want a child of a cad like you... I wish for anybody's child but yours.” (Gone with the Wind- By Margaret Mitchell)
We know this is a lie, just as she knows it is a lie. She missed him when he was gone and had been excited to tell him about the baby… until he told her he planned to leave again. Then, in order to save her pride, she said this awful thing to him.
Pride, though, is a difficult companion to let go of. Like the shell on an armadillo, we feel like pride protects us from the weakness of our own insecurities. So how do we help our children, or ourselves, find the courage to move beyond its hold?
Louisa May Alcott wrote, in Little Women, “… for love casts out fear, and gratitude can conquer pride.”
And so, my gratitude for the gift of being able to write means that I even accept a computer telling me that my grammar needs improvement. And my gratitude that I get to share my daughter’s learning means that I can sit
through her angry accusations of my own inequities without it becoming about me.
What are you grateful for? Has pride ever kept you from something you really wanted? I love to hear from my readers. And to prove it, I am giving away my left-over Thanksgiving meal to one commenter during the month of November. :>) Just kidding. Actually… I will donate $10 to the (non-political) charity of your choice if you win the November drawing. Just leave a comment for any of my posts and check back at the end of the month to see if you are the lucky winner.
“Did they smash my pumpkin?”
This last weekend my daughter had special homework. A kind family had donated pumpkins for all of the kids and they were asked to bring them home and carve and decorate them in their likeness. They returned them to school yesterday, were going to use them for decoration at their party Wednesday, and then would be able to bring them home after school that day.
Except…. Last night some kids came around and smashed all of them. This would have been difficult enough on the students if they had simply decorated them. But the fact that the pumpkins were self-portraits, made the vandalism that much more hurtful.
Kids can be stupid and silly at this time of year. After all, the idea of playing tricks is built right into the phrase they grow up saying on Halloween. There is a fine line, though, between a stupid trick and a cruel one. Perhaps when the harm is being done to someone you can’t see it makes it easier to ignore the cruelty. In this case, though, one of the kids who vandalized must have seen the faces on the pumpkins and thought, huh?!
Listening to that little huh is not always easy to do, though; especially when we are surrounded by louder voices egging us on. It takes courage and real character strength that I imagine few high schoolers possess. So, while it might be easy to vilify the perpetrators, the lesson our own kids should walk away with is, how can they build the courage and strength to pay attention to their own internal compass of right and wrong- even in the face of peer pressure.
If you are a parent and have not yet found Dr. Michelle Borba here is a link to her website. She has detailed, specific, useful advice on how to deal with all sorts of child rearing issues. The link above will actually take you to a blog post she wrote on handling peer pressure. One of my own take-aways from the post was the goal of reinforcing my daughter’s assertiveness at a young age, rather than treating it as rebellion. My focus should not be on the fact that she disagrees with something, rather perhaps on how she expresses that disagreement.
Vandals might be able to destroy the physical aspect of the pumpkin but they can not take away the experience of creating it. So too, the inner strength we build sticks with us, even as the external world around us changes.
Here is to Kind Tricks and Yummy Treats this Halloween.
Do you have techniques for encouraging assertiveness in your kids? Have you ever had a pumpkin smashed? I love hear from you. And to prove it I will be giving away my book, UNTANGLING THE KNOT, to one lucky commenter in October.
Leave a comment for any of my blog posts and at the end of each month I will randomly select one visitor/commenter to receive a free download of my book. (Note: winner will be notified by a reply linked to their original comment… so check back at the beginning of November for directions on how to claim your prize!)
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